The Soul in Winter

23 February 2019 in Music, Writing

People ask when my next concert will be. “I’d love to hear you play.” Or, “I just love the piano.” Always said, it seems, with eyes rolling heavenward or a clasp of hand to the heart. These prostrations unnerve me. I bear up. “I’m hibernating,” I say. “No performances on the horizon.”

I hear that hibernating bears emerge bony and skeletal from their dens. Weak and emaciated. I observe my fingers, which now sometimes have problems opening jars. I wriggle them and wonder how long they would last across the tundra.

In my hibernation, I listen to music, sometimes, like last night, discovering a pianist from Iceland, Vikingur Olafsson, who recorded Philip Glass in 2017, and then J.S. Bach less than two years later, as if no winters or summers had passed between the two composers’ lives. Time steps aside in deference to personal interpretation. I listen and devour the curvy turns of phrase in the Bach, the hesitant tripping grace of the Glass. I find a video of Olafsson playing a favorite Brahms Intermezzo of mine, Op. 117 No. 2., and recall something Clara Schumann said: “In these pieces I at last feel musical life stir once again in my soul.”

Wrapped in my headphones, I do not mind that I have no concert this spring, or fall, or next winter. The listening will be food enough. I’ll survive the journey to a future horizon of concert seasons. When I choose to wake.